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Topics - MEKoch

Your Turn / Asbury Seminary & Cedarville Univ
February 20, 2023, 04:31:22 PM
I am following very distantly on the news a "revival" at Asbury Seminary in Wilmore, KY.  Then a similar thing started Cedarville University in Cedarville, OH.  Asbury is Methodist (traditional?).   Cedarville is Baptist.  It is described as an all-day revival that continues with students, faculty and outsiders.  Their chapels are filled with over 1000 people.  People come and go and it continues.  I would imagine a lot of singing, praying, testimonies, scripture readings, sermons, etc. 

From a historical viewpoint does this share anything with the Pietists of Europe?  The enthusiasts?  It reminds me of the Charismatic movement of the late 60s and early 70s.

From a cultural viewpoint I see a culture in ferment, and very unhappy with our country, our churches, our religious life, our leaders.  In Ohio, where I am, there are many Lutheran churches, but they are dying.  Big ELCA churches are getting 25 per week.  And most people I see in worship are boomers. 

Your Turn / Would a Good Samaritan kill someone?
July 18, 2022, 11:57:14 AM
Yesterday, Sunday, at an Indianapolis Mall, an evil person killed three people with a gun, shooting randomly.  Then a patron in the food court pulled out his gun (owned legally and lawfully) and shot the perpetrator dead.  Now there is reaction.  Some called the armed citizen, who stopped the evil person from killing more people, a good samaritan.  Others object saying a good samaritan would never kill any one. 

I have thought about myself and what I would do, if say, a shooter shot at my family or friends, or congregation.  Would I leap on such a person and try to disarm them?  And in a wrestling match, who knows the outcome? 

Does killing an evil person who intends to do further bodily harm to other persons, make that person a good samaritan?  Am I trying to justify myself, as the lawyer in the story? 
Your Turn / No Bail America
November 30, 2021, 07:08:15 PM
I keep reading reports from California about smash and grab raids on stores.  Second, the railroads have containers and truck trailers broken into all over southern California.  The tracks are literally littered with boxes and stuff.  In Ohio where I live, they are seeking to have no bail for many felonies, claiming that poor people are locked up for months before trial. 

Is No Bail the problem?  Is reduced police forces the problem?  Or soft-hearted judges? 

We all seek a lawful society where we obey the laws because we know that is the best thing for our community.  First use of the Law is important and vital for our society to function. 
Your Turn / SCOTUS ruling
June 18, 2020, 07:04:46 PM
I notice that earlier this week SCOTUS ruled for GLBTQ etc., regarding job discrimination.  One part of the case involved a male transgender funeral home worker who showed up on his worksite dressed as a female.  He was fired.  SCOTUS majority said that the 1964 Civil Rights act prohibiting discrimination between male and female, could be stretched to mean that transgender persons had protection. 

None of us want to see people mistreated, or hounded, or bullied, or fired.  But I am now wondering, where does this leave us?  There is usually an exception for religious institutions in these rulings, but I can see in society that great confusion and further destruction of marriage and family will result.  If my 17 year old son wants to play on the high school girl's volley ball team, and he now identifies as female, who can stop him from playing volleyball with girls and using their locker room?  Will my 22 year old daughter lose her rowing team scholarship at college, because a male transgender person took her seat in the boat? 

The Methodist Bishop of MD in the late 90s had a pastor make a sexual transition.  He/she was prevented from pursuing the ministry further.  I assume the ELCA applauds the ruling. 

God's design for us is good and Godly.  We are certainly making a mess of the created order.  1st commandment stuff: I want to be god.......
Your Turn / The meaning of closed churches
March 17, 2020, 06:57:01 AM
At my church we managed to have worship services this past Sunday, but I think we are now closed for some time period.  "What does this mean?" 

-I am worried about the flock.  I am thinking about writing a daily? e-mail to them with a devotion.  They will have a lot of time on their hands.  Their usual daily routines are upset.  Very disorienting.  The Word of God is needed.  This morning I read Psalm 107.  It seemed to reflect the total disturbance of our society.

-I am worried about some of the flock, who is now suddenly unemployed.

-I am worried about the congregation.  If we cannot have worship services for four months, what happens to a congregation?  Their faith needs nourishing.  The bills need to be paid.  I suppose there is precedent in WW2, when countries were invaded and everything shut down.  Major change looms before us. 

As Jesus carried forth his earthly ministry, people placed their lives totally in his hands.  They had no where else to turn.  Maybe we are about to learn similar lessons.

Michael Koch
An Open Letter from Religious Leaders
December 15, 2017

Dear Friends:

As leaders of various communities of faith throughout the United States, many of us came together in the past to affirm our commitment to marriage as the union of one man and one woman and as the foundation of society. We reiterate that natural marriage continues to be invaluable to American society.

We come together to join our voices on a more fundamental precept of our shared existence, namely, that human beings are male or female and that the socio-cultural reality of gender cannot be separated from one's sex as male or female.

We acknowledge and affirm that all human beings are created by God and thereby have an inherent dignity. We also believe that God created each person male or female; therefore, sexual difference is not an accident or a flaw—it is a gift from God that helps draw us closer to each other and to God. What God has created is good. "God created mankind in his image; in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them" (Gen 1:27).

A person's discomfort with his or her sex, or the desire to be identified as the other sex, is a complicated reality that needs to be addressed with sensitivity and truth. Each person deserves to be heard and treated with respect; it is our responsibility to respond to their concerns with compassion, mercy and honesty. As religious leaders, we express our commitment to urge the members of our communities to also respond to those wrestling with this challenge with patience and love.

Children especially are harmed when they are told that they can "change" their sex or, further, given hormones that will affect their development and possibly render them infertile as adults. Parents deserve better guidance on these important decisions, and we urge our medical institutions to honor the basic medical principle of "first, do no harm." Gender ideology harms individuals and societies by sowing confusion and self-doubt. The state itself has a compelling interest, therefore, in maintaining policies that uphold the scientific fact of human biology and supporting the social institutions and norms that surround it.

The movement today to enforce the false idea—that a man can be or become a woman or vice versa—is deeply troubling. It compels people to either go against reason—that is, to agree with something that is not true—or face ridicule, marginalization, and other forms of retaliation.

We desire the health and happiness of all men, women, and children. Therefore, we call for policies that uphold the truth of a person's sexual identity as male or female, and the privacy and safety of all. We hope for renewed appreciation of the beauty of sexual difference in our culture and for authentic support of those who experience conflict with their God-given sexual identity.

Sincerely Yours:
Most Rev. Joseph C. Bambera

Bishop of Scranton
Chairman USCCB Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs

The Most Rev. Dr. Foley Beach
Archbishop and Primate
Anglican Church in North America

The Rev. John F. Bradosky
North American Lutheran Church

Most Rev. Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap.
Archbishop of Philadelphia
USCCB Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth

Most Rev. James D. Conley
Bishop of Lincoln
USCCB Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage

The Rt. Rev. John A. M. Guernsey
Bishop, Diocese of the Mid-Atlantic
Anglican Church in North America

Rev. Dr. Matthew Harrison
Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod

Imam Faizal Khan
Founder and Leader
Islamic Society of the Washington Area

Most Rev. Joseph E. Kurtz
Archbishop of Louisville
Chairman USCCB Committee for Religious Liberty

Archbishop of Pittsburgh
Orthodox Church in America

The Rt. Rev. Eric V. Menees
Bishop of San Joaquin
Anglican Church in North America

Rev. Eugene F. Rivers, III
Founder and Director
Seymour Institute for Black Church and Policy Studies
Church of God in Christ

Rev. Dr. Gregory P. Seltz, PhD
Executive Director
The Lutheran Center for Religious Liberty

The Rev. Paull Spring
Bishop Emeritus
The North American Lutheran Church

Rev. Tony Suarez
Executive Vice President
National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference

Very Rev. Nathanael Symeonides
Ecumenical Officer
Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America

The Rev. Dr. L. Roy Taylor
Stated Clerk of the General Assembly
Presbyterian Church in America

Andrew Walker
Director of Policy Studies
Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission

The Rev. Dr. David Wendel
Assistant to the Bishop for Ministry and Ecumenism
The North American Lutheran Church

Paul Winter
Your Turn / The Church and Drug Addiction
September 27, 2016, 11:51:03 AM
I just did my second funeral in six weeks for a young man who overdosed on drugs.  Last weekend in Cleveland, OH, eight people died from overdosing.  It is heroin mixed with fentanyl which kills quickly.  Police come with Narcan to attempt reversing the effects of the drug.

"We confess we are in bondage to sin and cannot free ourselves."    I confess at age 70 I am at a loss about the drug culture.  I see a need for the Church to respond, but another "program" sounds hollow.  We already have A.A. and N.A. six days per week in our church. 

A church in Columbus, OH recently sponsored a seminar on this topic, but I could not attend.  How do proclaim the light of Jesus Christ in a dark world? 

Martin Marty in his weekly e-news "Sightings" had a response from some clergy calling for an end to the Drug War.  And they cited Seattle and some Canadian cities where drugs are dispensed by an agency, with medical clinic attached. 

Your wisdom and theologizing can further our mutual conversation,

Michael Koch
Your Turn / "Private" baptisms
October 20, 2015, 11:33:15 AM
In an interim church I am now getting requests for "private" baptisms.   I am unsure what to do.  I have done only two private baptisms in 42 years of ministry (baptism of a dying infant in a hospital & an 18 year old whose parents opposed baptism). 

I think of baptism as a public sacrament, which the congregation pledges to support the parents in their baptismal vows.   It is a joyful celebration of the growth of God's kingdom.  The parents publicly state their faith and their vows. 

I am looking for your wisdom.

Michael Koch
Your Turn / Gay Wedding Cake & Us
June 09, 2014, 08:59:57 AM
I am hearing about a proprietor in Colorado, who refused to make a wedding cake for a homosexual wedding.  He was found to be in violation of a Colorado law?  Then he was compelled to bake the cake.  And his employees to be trained on "diversity" training. 

I heard he has legal counsel and is fighting the entire process and law.  May God be with him!!

Then came my Lutheran Core e-newsletter for June and Rev. Steve Shipman, director of Lutheran Core asks: can churches (like the Colorado proprietor) be ordered to do a homosexual ceremony (I will NOT call it a wedding).  Shipman says: "Where dos that leave pastors and lay members who believe God intends marriage to be a lifelong commitment of one man and one woman?"

Yes, I know that these laws have religious exceptions, but we also know that the homosexual agenda would love to force churches into performing ceremonies.  They would love to stick it hard to the churches of their community.  They want only their agenda as legal, and they will use every legal power to pursue it.  And there are enough liberal crazy judges in this country to help them on their way. 

Shipman continues: "It is not out of the question that a pastor who refuses to officiate at a same-sex blessing will be charged with a civil rights violation, or that a congregation will face legal action for refusing to permit such a ceremony in its facilities.  Even though the First Amendment will probably protect them, their legal fees will be massive." 

Shipman says this is not a moment for anger and resignation, but prayer and preparation.  LBW marriage prayer says: "Because God, who established marriage, continues still to bless it with his abundant and ever-present support, we can be sustained in our weariness and have our joy restored." 

"I am personally saddened by the degrading of what it means to be human, as too often people seek their identity in their sexuality rather than in God's gracious adoption of us in baptism as His sons and daughters."  "In all things God who raised Jesus has the last word."   


What now?  How do we respond to this situation?  I have used CPH's wonderful series on marriage as sermon material for teaching in the parish.  But how do we respond in the face of this legal barrage across our country?  How have faithful Lutheran Canadians responded in their churches?  Do church bodies respond?  Ohio, where I live, has a constitutional amendment defining marriage, (passed by a substantial margin in 2004), but already the opponents are organizing to overturn that amendment. 

The faithful need to stand up and demonstrate love for all, but clear teaching on marriage.  This will not be an easy task.

Michael Koch
Your Turn / A Blessed Ascension Day
May 29, 2014, 01:30:59 PM
"Father, at your Son's ascension into heaven you promised to send the Holy Spirit on your apostles.  You filled them with heavenly wisdom: fill us also with the gift of your Spirit.  Grant this through our Lord jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and every. Amen." 

"Look, oh look, the sight is glorious, See the man of sorrow now;
From the fight returned victorious, Ev'ry knee to him shall bow. 
Crown him!  Crown him! Crown him! Crown him!
Crown the Savior, King of kings, Crown the Savior, King of kings."   LBW 156

May Christ's ascension fill you and your congregations as we worship Him today.

Michael Koch
Your Turn / Prayers for storm victims
October 30, 2012, 01:44:55 PM
Lord God, our creator and preserver:  The awesome power of nature is before us.  Be with the dying and injured.  Comfort the homeless and hopeless.  Give emergency personnel wisdom, patience and endurance in their tasks.  May your church be a place of rescue and respite for victims.  Guide pastors and lay people to be a Godly presence.  Show governmental authorities how to protect, aid and bring order to chaotic communities. 

As the days unfold, let your churches be a beacon of hope.  Fill congregations with care and strength, so they can minister to member and stranger alike.  Bring generosity to the hearts of all, so that renewal and reconstruction can happen. 

"Give us faith to go out with good courage, not knowing where we go, but only that your hand is leading us and your love supporting us; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen."

Mike Koch
Your Turn / Celebrating Marriage Sunday
June 02, 2012, 04:32:06 AM
With all the cultural assaults on marriage (the latest being a Federal judge and JCPenney), I am using June 24 to teach and celebrate marriage in our worship services.  We will have couples renew marriage vows, a sermon on God's goodness in creating marriage, a children's time about marriage, and a litany written to include all person in the congregation in some manner (married, single, widowed, children, teens, etc.). 

Have any of you had a marriage Sunday?  Renewal of vows?  What did you do?

I think it is very necessary to teach and celebrate marriage in our churches.  Lifting up good marriages shows all persons God's good plan for us.

Mike Koch
Bishop John Bradosky addressed the Association for Church Renewal meeting Oct. 17.  Here is a text of his address.  It is well worth the reading. 

What is the honest assessment of our current state?
Let me begin with the obvious because it remains
hidden from the full view of our people and is a source
of celebration in our current cultural and political
climate. Mainline churches are in a state of decline.
The only thing that separates us is the slope of that
decline. If you compare our statistics to population
growth, we are in far worse shape than our year-toyear
decline would lead us to believe.
Baptists, of all types, are not far behind. If you are one
of those who enjoys the phrase, "misery loves
company," you will be pleased to know that other
evangelicals, even the independents, will be joining our
ranks soon. Christianity in North America is in a state
of decline!

What are the root causes for the decline?
1. The focus on achieving "relevancy" started with an
invalid assumption — that the Gospel of Jesus Christ
depends on us to make it relevant to the culture. The
mission of the church was diverted from the Great
Commission and the Great Commandment to the
agenda of the culture. By promoting the agenda of the
culture, some believed the culture would then be more
open to the mission of the church. However, as the
church abandoned its mission in favor of speaking out
for the culture, there was no need for the culture to
respond to the church because the church now
adopted the culture's values as its own. The church
became mired in the political as a means to attain
popularity. Political agendas and activism became the
means for demonstrating relevancy. But the result was
a church that became less popular and increasingly
irrelevant to the culture.

2. One of the specific cultural values that undermines
the authority, mission and ministry of the church is the
preoccupation with evolution and the theory that
became dogma regarding the progress of humanity
toward positive change, sophistication and therefore
superiority over our predecessors. The present is far
more valuable than the past, we told ourselves. The
values, ideas, lifestyle, philosophies, and lack of
religious faith in the present is far superior to the past.
The hermeneutic of the present is skepticism for
anything in the past.

3. The sense of the transcendent gave way to the
systems of salvation we could manufacture for
ourselves. Science, technology, medicine and politics
led the way. Rather than discuss the nature of the
Kingdom, the church was content to settle for socialism
or communism, depending on the denominational line.
Today there are still many who believe the Kingdom of
God Jesus proclaimed will be ushered in on the political
platform of Democrats, Republicans or Independents.
Social engineers and educational systems would take
the place of the church in setting values. Government
would take over the responsibilities for caring for the
poor and hungry, the widows and orphans, the sick
and dying.

4. Internally the church adapted by abandoning the
authority of Scripture. In order to validate the values of
the culture, we had to also abandon the historic
interpretation of the Scripture. Seminary professors, in
the name of the "historical-critical method," were free
to engage in deconstructive methods of interpretation,
revisionist methods and reductionist methods or
Gospel minimalism. Those methods obscured the
nature of the Christ. Luther wrote, "Let the Bible cease
to be heard and soon the remembered Christ
becomes an imagined Christ, shaped by the religiosity
and the unconscious desires of His worshipers." "The
authority of the Church becomes nothing more than
the wisdom of popes and councils . . ." Luther
understood that without adherence to the Word, the
remembered Christ becomes the imagined Christ that
fits our agendas and issues. The mission Jesus gave
to His Church is abandoned for the new mission of
cultural relevancy, and evangelism that leads people
to Christ is abandoned for the sake of leading people
to embrace the "cause." The freedom to redefine sin
according to the new values of the culture meant that
forgiveness and repentance were also considered
unnecessary. The new authority and driving force
were feelings and personal experiences. A Savior who
offers forgiveness and salvation was once important
but now is no longer necessary.

5. What has preoccupied us for decades is teaching
the content of issues and agendas rather than the
faith. It is no small concern that our people know more
about environmental issues than they do about the life
of Jesus. We know more about political issues than
our confessions. We know more about the economy
than we do about ecclesiology, the nature of the
Church. We know about social ills but very little about
the spiritual ills that plague us. We are aware of world
hunger but care little about helping others hunger for
God. We are aware of our need to conserve water
resources but fail to lead others to the wellspring of the
Water of Life, Jesus. We talk about freedom but say
little about obedience. We focus on grace but don't
see the value of repentance and transformation.

6. The over-institutionalization of our churches has
worked to hasten our decline. We have adopted a
corporate model requiring the upward flow of power,
money and control to the uppermost levels of our
structures, depending on those at the top to address
problems and concerns, to produce the changes
necessary for renewal and rebirth. What they have
succeeded in doing is to suck the life out of the local
congregation. The front line for mission and ministry
are those stuck in bureaucratic offices who have the
least contact with those in need. They are the least
effective in delivering what is helpful, but they use
every contact to promote the values of their internal
culture and insist on conformity with their agendas. As
they continued to fail — decreasing in size and
financial assets — they resorted to what every dying
institution does.

7. Institutional survival has now become the mission.
Preserving their existence becomes the most
important goal — even if it means compromising the
Gospel. Evangelicals who overbuilt their infrastructure
are forced to fill the seats by making their message
popular. The easiest way to do so is to compromise
the Gospel for the sake of a more popular message
that is sure to please. The characteristics of
institutional survival are defensiveness, deceit,
attacks, creating new enemies to blame for failure, and
protection strategies. Denial of the truth and
maintaining images are everything.
How did we get to this point?

Whenever I speak about this, the most frequently
asked question is how did we get to this point? We
have to have a reasonable and plausible answer for
such questions. My stock answer is — just a little at a
time. George Barna addressed this concern some
years ago in his book, The Frog and the Kettle. This
concept of social change is called gradualism. As a
pilot, I understand the nature and use of the compass.
That analogy is also a good way to describe our
situation. If you are only off a few degrees and you are
only going five miles, you will still hit your target. If you
are only off a few degrees and you are going 500
miles you could miss an entire city. If you are off a few
degrees and you are going 5,000 miles, you could
miss an entire state or two. This methodology for
change is imperceptible but intentional. Those
advocating it have a consistent mantra — Why are you
worried about the little things? This is insignificant. It
won't affect you. You are making a mountain out of a
mole hill. By the time we realize how far off course we
are, it is too late! 

Where do we go from here?
1. Staying or leaving is not the main issue.
2. Whether people stay or go, we must admit that
renewal can't happen without reform.
3. Reform is not going to come until the pain of
continuing down the current path is greater than the
pain of changing.
4. People cannot stay on the front line of such conflict
forever. This is a battle. People are being attacked
and left demoralized. They are shell-shocked and
suffering from fatigue.
5. While renewal groups can be a safe place for
people to share their war stories and pray for one
another's war wounds, they will not be able to hold
people together endlessly.
6. People need a place to go to be immersed in faithful
service, mission and ministry that is bearing fruit.
7. As a result, I think renewal groups are going to have
to be a place where the front line has to change
regularly. Offering fellowship, sharing, encouragement,
spiritual renewal are good, but the development of a
battle plan is even better.

The NALC has developed a church
culture based on four basic values:

Christ-Centered — Jesus is everything, and the only
one we follow is the Christ revealed in the Word. We
uphold Biblical authority as the norm for all matters of
life and faith, the revealed and transcendent truth. Our
Theological Conference in August was titled, "Salvation
Today," with the keynote address: "The Uniqueness
and Universality of Jesus." It was so essential
because, through these last several decades, both
pastors, in their seminary training, and in
congregations, through the preaching of those pastors,
our people have become confused regarding salvation!
Jesus is unique, exclusive, definitive, normative and
absolute. There is no other savior or means of
salvation apart from Him. This is counter-cultural in a
pluralistic world. Yet it is the truth.
I am reminded of the story of a thirsty cowboy who
walked into a saloon. The bartender said, "Care for a
drink, stranger?" The cowboy responded: "What are my
choices?" The bartender answered: "Yes or No." In a
world that wants all kinds of choices, we have a
singular focus on Jesus because there are no other
choices. There is only one Lord, one Savior, Jesus!

The second value of the NALC is Mission-Driven. We
believe the Great Commission is the only mission
Jesus gave to His Church. We are to make disciples of
all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father,
Son and Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey all that
Jesus commands. We are not defining ourselves in a
negative sense by what we oppose. Rather, we are
looking forward to doing everything we can to fulfill the
Great Commission.

The third value is that we are Traditionally-
Grounded. We affirm the ecumenical creeds and the
faithful witness of the Church across time and space.
We seek dialog and fellowship with other Lutheran
churches and with faithful Christians of other
confessions. We are not trying to reinvent the Church
but to remain faithful to the heritage that has made
Lutherans a blessing to the entire Body of Christ. We
are a part of the legacy of those countless saints who
came before us who gave their lives for the sake of the
Gospel of Jesus so that we might know Him and
worship Him and follow Him by sharing His Gospel until
the whole world knows.

The fourth value is that we are Congregationally-
Focused. The local congregation is the front line for
mission and ministry. Everything else we do
organizationally should be to support, facilitate and
encourage the ministries of local congregations. We
will be lean and structure ourselves so that we can
keep pastors and congregations connected for best
practices, best ideas for ministry, sharing resources,
offering support and care, etc. In so doing we have
abandoned the corporate model of the upward flow of
money, power and control and empowered local
leaders and encouraged the development of ministry
and mission at the place where it will do the greatest

In short, we see ourselves as a part of the Confessing
Church movement. For those of you who have not
read it yet, I commend the biography of Dietrich
Bonhoeffer by Eric Metraxis. Bonhoeffer was a pastor
and theologian during World War II. He was a leader
of the Confessing Church movement in Germany that
opposed the German Church. The German Church had
been conscripted by the culture and the authority of
political leaders, like Hitler and others, such that it was
willing to compromise the truth for the sake of its own
survival. As you read it, I believe you too will be struck
by the similarity in the issues the church was facing
then and what we are facing today. The need for the
Confessing Church has never been greater.
Bonhoeffer decries the cheap grace the Lutheran
Church of Germany was offering people. He describes
discipleship with these words: When Christ calls
someone, He bids them to come and die.
Bonhoeffer is reminding us that the cross of Christ —
His sacrificial love for the salvation of the world — must
be manifest in our own lives. Christ's love and
constant presence give us the capacity to give our life
away. It is at the cross that sin is forgiven, salvation is
received and new life begins.

Discipleship is complete commitment to Jesus. Every
part of our life has to die. Our sin, our pride, our worry
and concerns, our selfish desire, our materialism, our
commitment to buildings, organizations and institutions
— all have to die. The only way that you can truly
experience life is to die. It is only through dying that we
truly live. Bonheoffer held on for as long as he could,
but in the end he had to leave the German Church to
lead the Confessing Church movement.

The issue of staying or leaving has to give way to
the greater concern of boldly confessing Christ
even in the hostile environment of the institutional
church culture or the American culture!

Where is the hope for our future?
There is hope. Christianity is still the fastest growing
faith in the world. It is just not growing in the West or in
the Northern Hemisphere. It is growing in the East and
in the Southern Hemisphere.
In my trip to Ethiopia this past February and in
subsequent dialogs with leaders from Ethiopia, I have
learned several important things regarding the success
of the church regarding growth, evangelism and
mission. Ethiopia is a place where the Church is
growing faster than any other place in the world. Here
is the surprise: Lutherans are at the forefront of that

What they have confirmed as reasons for that growth in
the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus, are:
1. Complete reliance on the power and work of the Holy Spirit.
2. The essential nature of prayer.
3. Personal ownership of the Great Commission. The
real vocation of every Christian is to fulfill the Great
Commission. Everything else you do with your life is
an avocation that serves your primary purpose. . . .
Personal responsibility for the Great Commission.
4. Bold proclamation of the Gospel — uninhibited by
the culture or political correctness.
5. Believing use of the Scriptures — the Bible as
normative for their faith and life.
6. Salvation in Christ alone — no other means of salvation.
7. Focus on Discipleship — following Christ obediently.
8. Connect acts of love and care with the sharing of the Gospel.
9. Lay involvement is not only important but essential.
Lay people have primary areas of responsibility —
catechists, evangelists, pastoral assistants, caring
ministries, etc. Demonstration of the priesthood of all believers.
10. Mentoring and education — they want to learn more.
11. Trusting in the Hand of God to work — not our own
hands. Our hands respond to Him, and we place our hands in His.
12. The best news of all: They have a mission to
reach the world with the Gospel of Jesus and that includes us!
We need one another. We need to work together to
strengthen our witness to the world.

I just returned from Rome, where I was amazed at the
sensitivity to work together to overcome the passive
acquiescence of the church to cultural values that have
watered-down or destroyed the faith of those who were
once faithful. I was amazed at the honesty about the
inherent problems of institutionalization that weakens or
diverts the focus of faith in Jesus. The new ecumenical
movement must not be simply mutual support or
understanding our difference, but a new commitment to
unite under the banner of the Confessing Church
movement — to boldly confess Christ. It is to that end
that we must labor and commit our lives. May the Lord
continue to bless and guide you in your work

Mike Koch  :)
Your Turn / Obama trashes DOMA
March 12, 2011, 04:52:27 PM
I am bit surprised that no one on this list has talked about President Obama and Attorney General Holder announcing that they will no longer defend the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) passed during the Clinton Presidency in 1995?  DOMA defined marriage as exclusively between one man and one woman. 

The legal issues are boggling: the President announces that he is going to ignore a valid law; his attorney general says it is discriminatory and likely unconstitutional.  Isn't that the proper domain of the courts to make such decisions, and NOT the executive branch?  Obama is unilaterally saying homosexuality is wonderful and throwing a big bone to the gay lobby.....  Thankfully members of the U.S. Congress announced their outrage at Obama & Holder and said they will pursue this matter in the courts.  Who can seek an immediate writ from the Supreme Court crushing this novel legal procedure by the Justice Department?  "We are going to ignore this law because we don't like it......"

Thankfully Archbishop Dolan speaking for the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) said: "Our nation and government have the duty to recognize and proect marriage, not tamper with and redfine it, nor to caricature the deeply held beliefs of so many citizens as 'discrimintion.'" 

Dolan said:
- marriage is single irreplacable institution of one man & one woman
- the family unit of nurturing children is bedrock for every society
- DOMA affirms the above and is not discrimination
- Promoting heterosexual marriage is worthy of protection and protects children
- The common good of having mother and father raise children and form a lifelong union
- The Obama administration's position is a threat to religious liberty.

Sadly, my Bishop Hanson will keep his mouth shut, since he is part of the gay lobby.  Hopefully Matt Harrison will speak up as well as churches throughout our country. 

Sounds like a sermon topic to me.  Or at least a well written newsletter article at least.

Michael Koch

Your Turn / The Division for Outrage - ELCA
October 07, 2009, 01:08:54 PM
I renamed this division in 1993.  After a colossal expensive failure to build a mega church in Orange Courty, CA in the early 90s, the Division for Outrage decided to build a black mega church in Prince Georges County, Maryland - just east of Washington, DC.  I was one of ten ELCA congregations in that county then, and I was developing a black Lutheran Church in the center of the county.  I had been at the task for five years.  We had a building on five acres on a major road and a worshipping community of 35-40 per week. 

I offered to resign and let DO take over the congregation, so they would have a core group, land, building in a good location.  They declined saying that they did not want any old "baggage", such as too small a building, too small a piece of land, and a few white people.  They had dreams that were beyond any reality of Lutheranism in the black community (which takes long patient dedicated ministry to thrive). 

So in 1996 two pastors arrived, a music director and an administrator - yes, four full-time staff.  They first met about 1.5 miles from the location of our congregation.  The four persons proved to be wonderful dedicated servants of Christ, but they were thrown into a black middle-class suburban community and given three years to create a "mega" church.  Expectations were on the roof for something grand to happen. 

Three years later in 1999, one pastor resigned; the whole model was tossed out; the DO had exhausted their money and their exuberance.  Meanwhile the congregation  I served had now grown to about 70 per Sunday.  Working with my bishop I then resigned.  The DO congregation (a small group) then merged into the congregation I had served. 

The Division for Outrage has a new name and has been merged into something else.  In any case, hopefully they are spending their money more prudently. 

I wish the ELCA well, but they won't have my money or the monies of the congregation I currently serve to waste on their stupid arrogant schemes. 

Mike Koch
Your Turn / The Cultural Divide
July 07, 2009, 09:58:47 PM
I confess to having a difficult week.  It is this whole Michael Jackson thing.  I find it completely and totally revolting.  It is everywhere on every network.  CNN said that viewers increased by 400% when they talked about Michael Jackson.  Has this society gone nuts?  All right, he could dance and sing.  But he was a child molester, a convicted pedophile, fathered children here and there, relationships here and there.   I find nothing redeeming in the man.  As Congressman Peter King from New York asked:  Would I let my grandchildren go with this man?  Absolutely not! 
   So we have the cultural divide.  I find people my age, baby boomers, who feel largely as I do.  And yet hundreds of thousands in this country and around the world are mourning his death.  Are they jealous for the fame, the money, the lifestyle?  All those things ruined Michael Jackson.  He came from a two-parent family and could have done enormous good in the Black community by advocating marriage, family, chastity and restraint.  Basically all his money, fame and power were wasted. 
   I felt a similar cultural divide in the 90s when I was pastor of a Black congregation, and Bill Clinton proceeded to commit adultery in the White House.  In spite of all his waywardness, the Black community loved Bill Clinton and were not happy with my condemnations of him. 
   This brings me to this Sunday and preaching.  I have studied Amos 7, Psalm 85, Ephesians 1 & Mark 6, but I don't see them relating to this cultural divide.  Danelson does say something that makes some sense to me: "Amos did not charge Jereboam with marital infidelity.  He charged both king and people with faithlessness to the will of God, reflected in their corrupt worship and disinterest in the plight of the needly.  The Spirit-filled Christian lives out his/her destiny as the adopted child of God, and witnesses faithfully to the righteousness of God."
    Do other feel this cultural divide?  Am I just an older pastor who cannot understand?

Mike Koch
Your Turn / Interfaith wedding rites
October 07, 2008, 10:57:42 PM
Jewish gentlemen wants to wed Lutheran? lady.  Anyone have suggested rites?

TIA   Mike Koch
Your Turn / Via Dolorosa
February 27, 2008, 07:50:22 PM
Brothers & Sisters,

I am thinking about doing some preaching about the Via Dolorosa on Good Friday. 

And yes, the stations of the cross, etc.

Your help and suggestions are appreciated.

Michael Koch
Your Turn / Clever Universalism
November 13, 2007, 05:55:22 PM
I normally read carefully the Sunday's prayers from the Celebrate insert for use as the general prayer.  I edit them for content and doctrine, etc.  But on this past Sunday when I did not get to the task, they slipped in a bit of universalism. 

"For all those who call upon God in faith and devotion in any language and by any Name, that all peoples of the wolrd may live freely to express their faith, we pray:"

"by any Name"  Wow.  kind of leaves it open. 

"express their faith"   Wow again.  'their' faith.  Faith in what?  Any faith in any thing? 


Michael Koch
Your Turn / Blessing of Animals
August 25, 2007, 05:57:19 PM
Some folks in my parish were asking about a blessing of the animals.  I have never done such a rite and don't see it anywhere in the Occasional Services book.  I did not know how to respond to the request.

Any suggestions or critiques you have would be appreciated.

Michael Koch
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